Absinthe in Boston?
- ScubaSteve Nov 13, 2007 11:49 AM
i hear that they are now importing (and manufacturing) Absinthe to the US.
i also heard that Kingston Station is serving this liquor.
anyone know of any place serving, and if they do, do they do the thing with the special spoon and let the Absinthe drip through the sugar cube into spring water?
How "real" is this stuff though? I mean the stuff that was being imported was already massively reduced in content vs. what was consumed 100ish years ago, did they just weaken it again? Is this just basically overpriced chartreuse? :)
(This also isn't getting into the issue of whether or not the active ingredients actually do what people claim they do, or if it was just a screw job from the start)
I had Absinthe at Deep Ellum in Allston. They burned the sugar cube on the spoon and let the caramel drip into the Absinthe with water served on the side. I have since learned that this is not traditional, the water should be dripped through the sugar cube on the spoon into the Absinthe. Their version was fun and good nonetheless. Reminded me of Pernod but I haven't done a side by side comparison (there's an idea!).
The "absinthe" they serve in the U.S. is a joke.
Has zero to almost-zero thojone content.
The brand I buy online, Zele, is far more powerful both alcoholically, and wormwood-wise: 75.5% alcohol (151 proof), with 111 mL of thujone per kilogram. That's compared to about 0-9 mL of thujone per kilogram in the stuff they serve here.
No 9 Park also has the legal Absinthe; I was there last night and had a drink made with it - a new cocktail called Mort Vivant that's not yet on the menu. It was excellent, a take on the Corpse Reviver.
Here's an article that discusses the thujone-wormwood info and why the American-made absinthe is legal.
Barely Legal: American Absinthe Passes the Taste Test
BTW, I've had 'real' illegal absinthe once a few years ago when someone brought it in from out of the country as a gift for a local chef. It's mighty powerful stuff and really high proof, and it's said that it's not hallucinogen-inducing unless you drank bottles of the stuff. BTW, the same person who shared some of his absinthe also loaned me the book "Hideous Absinthe: a History of the Devil in a Bottle". Really a fascinating read. The higher the thujone content, the more bittter the absinthe, and hence why it was classically poured over a sugar cube.
re: Boston Scene
I've had that drink: it's called la La Fée Verte ("the green fairy", a synonym for absinthe). But it's made with Absente (which the menu misspells as "Absenthe"), an American pastis, not absinthe, plus gin and Grand Marnier. It's very tasty, nonetheless.
Absente tries to pass itself off as real absinthe, but it uses southern wormwood (Artemisia abrotanum), whereas purists only consider spirits distilled with grande wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) to be real absinthe.
On another note, Bostonbob3's website is very interesting, and effectively says that thujone content is utterly irrelevant to absinthe quality, as it has none of the psychoactive properties commonly attributed to it.
re: MC Slim JB
On your last paragraph, the last I read up on the matter it was largely believed (scientifically that is) to be a bunch of hogwash but the jury was still out (perhaps driven by people who choose to believe it is true? Who knows).
The same belief was that the so called 'absinthism' that drove a lot of the hysteria about the drink many moons ago was nothing more than the sort of deleterious effects one would see from drinking extremely high proof alcohol in decent quantities day in and day out.
In the books about absinthe I've read, that's what I've understood too.
BTW, I understood that last paragraph on the wormwood site to mean that the common misperception is that the best absinthe has the most wormwood and, as that website points out, the highest concentration is irrelevant to quality. However, IMO, the distinctive aggressiveness of wormwood is inherent to the qualities and taste of a good absinthe. While Kubler is certainly a great price and tasty product (and the only legal absinthe in the US with any thujone at all), I found it more anise-forward, and missing that distinctive wormwood "bite" and flavor of a classic absinthe. Then again, I haven't tried more than 4-5 absinthes, and I remember one in Europe being downright horrible, but I remember how impressed I was with the one that I thought was excellent. Here are some tasting notes re: Kubler from the same site:
Rubee, I think you hit the nail on the head. Does wormwood/Thujone have "strange, psychoactive" powers? No idea really. I will say that real absinthe certainly gives me a different drunk than any other booze. And thujone is clinically proven to be a hallucinegenic in certain quantities.
But no matter, the wormwood IS essential to the overall ansinthe experience and taste.
Absinthe without wormwood is kind of like beer without hops. Not a perfect analogy, I know, but you get my point.
But then, I think I have "strange psychoactive powers" all the time. ; )
(adding links In response to the OP's original question):
No 9 Park
9 Park Street, Boston, MA 02108
25 Kingston Street, Boston, MA 02111
226 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113
Deep Ellum Bar
477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134
Pardon the interruption, but please keep the discussion here focused on where to find Absinthe in Boston. If you want to discuss Absinthe generally, please post on the Spirits board - there are also a couple of ongoing threads there about Absinthe that you might find helpful.
I have heard the Absinthe myth is an urban legend, but have to say a recent experience at Styx on Stanhope street in Boston leads me to believe otherwise. I understand that varying degrees of Thujone are present in different brands of Absinthe; based on my experience the ones served at Styx were on the higher end of the spectrum. Granted I had a bit to drink beforehand, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The bartender poured it in very traditional manner(sugar cube, spoon, etc.) and the bar- very cool setting- added to the mystique.
Anchovies on Columbus Avenue has absinthe and the special serving equipment (special spoon for the sugar, spigot for distilled water, etc..). Thankfully, they still have plently of Beefeater available too. :-)